I wake up early and ready to go. I am feeling much better and glad I did not try and do more yesterday. Breakfast, shower and soon Pip and Jack (her son) stop to walk with me to the train station. We have checked the schedule and a quick train ride to Cardiff will get me there with a little time to look around. Arriving at the station it is the end of the route and no one is on the train. I say thank you and good bye to my wonderful Merthyr Tydfil hosts and soon I am on my way. I decide to play some candy crush and don't even notice the short stops along the way and soon we are in Cardiff at the train station. Somewhere in between Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff the skies filled with clouds that turn dark gray and rain began falling. This truly changes my plans to explore the city, although I had realized that I am traveling with my luggage which would have limited my ability to look around. I did take some time while I was resting the day prior to learn a little about this capital of Wales called Cardiff. With a population of around 350,o00 people it is the largest city in Wales. A port city on the Bristol Chanel, it has played a large part in Welsh exportation of goods for centuries. It is the location of the Welsh government headquarters and has become the top tourist location in the country. Today the rain is falling hard and so I strategically plan my attach, crossing the street to get to a covered entrance or dry spot on the opposite side. I find it ironic that I cross the street to one of these first dry spots and end up in front of a Brazilian restaurant which may have ended my wet journey if it had been open. It is closed so I continue my dodging from one canopy to the next with carry on suitcase in tow and backpack attached. The buildings of Cardiff are definitely old and line the streets with a definite pride. Those same hanging tree forms filled with blooming flowers line several of the streets and one can find Welsh flags hanging all over the city center. If only the sun was shining, I would be able to enjoy this feature at its fullest instead of in between sprints. I walk quickly down the sparsely inhabited streets peering down the alley in between in search of sights to see. In the distance I can see a castle like structure and it becomes my destination. Cardiff Castle, is located near the city center and is simply spectacular even on this less then perfect touring day. When I finally get to the castle the rain has let up a bit and I am able to take a quick look around. Once again I have regrets that I did not get on the bus the day prior but I guess I will just have to put Cardiff on my list of must sees for my next visit. I find my way in through the large front entrance and in the middle of a green grassy areas stands a small castle like structure on top of a mound. Obviously a place I would love to explore more, but my time in Cardiff is running short so I am able to just view it from a distance. I leave the interior of the great walls and walk down the street to the corner where a large tower which once helped protect the interior buildings is located. I observe the great details of the tower and can see by the clock on it that I need to head back to the bus station. At this point I have traveled a little ways and am not sure how far away I am. On my way I come to a covered street which is a nice alternative to dodging from one dry spot to the next and the wet dreary weather outside. Lots of quick window shopping to be done as I meander towards the station. When I arrive, my bus is just pulling up and I realize that I am like a wet dog. Time to get on board and enjoy the ride into London.
The ride through the countryside to London is nice and soon we are traveling down many different streets of the city. Stop lights, people strolling along the streets, and lots of traffic bring me back to life in the city after my short stay in Wales. I am meeting my travel companions at the place we are staying - a youth hostel. Luiz's brother has made all the travel plans and there are 11 of us for this first stop London. I arrive at the bus station and step into a large patriotic lobby filled with shops and people hustling around. I attempt to get my bearings and soon find my way to the street and look around. It does not take me long to find the street that will take me in the direction of the hostel and after looking around a bit I am off in the direction I need to go. Somewhere along the way I miss a turn or maybe I am just confused by the street signs which way to go. After a short detour and unfortunately a long walk up hill, I realize I am walking in the wrong direction and ask a couple of people for help. I find my way and arrive at the hostel safe and sound. Since there are a lot of us in our group we are taking a full room at the hostel which house 12 people so we don't have to have anyone else in the room with us. When I arrive I am greeted by the group who have just finished settling in. They have all flown from Brazil together to meet me here. I join them and settle into our room and since it is evening at this point and we are hungry we set out to find a place for dinner. On my short detour I saw some places to eat so the group decides to heads up the hill in that direction I was lost in and decide on Jamies Italian restaurant for our evening meal. We plan to start touring pretty early the next morning so after dinner we head back and crawl into our bunk beds and call it a night.